We are only too familiar with the headlines based on Gallup’s worldwide survey on engagement. “Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work”. “24% are actively disengaged, indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to coworkers”  and so on…. Yet we seem unable to shift the figures very much.

There is overwhelming evidence that good engagement translates into good business results. The Engage for Success report from 2012 is full of data such as “Research from organisations representing more than five million employees worldwide in the Aon Hewitt database showed that in 2010 organisations with engagement levels of 65% or greater outperformed the total stock market index and posted total shareholder returns that were 22% higher than average; companies with engagement levels of 45% or less had a total shareholder return that was 28% lower than the average return.”

Is it just too difficult to make work more interesting, are leaders blind to the connection between engagement and business success, or is there not enough pressure on them to make changes?

There is ample research showing that flexible working is linked to engagement. One paper submitted to a CIPD conference concludes “This study shows that flexible work arrangements can lead to desired employee behaviour, but only when employees perceive them in a positive light – simply making flexible work arrangements available may not be good enough.”

At Wisework we believe that people who have control over the way they work are much more likely to be engaged and as a consequence will be more productive and less likely to leave. This results directly in improved performance for the organisation. If only leaders could get their heads out of their spreadsheets for long enough to look around at the way they treat their workforce, they would realise they have untapped potential waiting to be unleashed.

It’s a national problem for the UK.  Here, to finish, is a quote from the Engage for Success report…

“The UK has an employee engagement deficit. Survey after survey indicates that only around one third of UK workers say they are engaged – a figure which leaves the UK ranked ninth for engagement levels amongst the world’s twelve largest economies as ranked by GDP (Kenexa 2009).

The UK also has a productivity deficit. The most recent ONS survey found that output per hour in the UK was 15 percentage points below the average for the rest of the G7 industrialised nations in 2011; on an output per worker basis, UK productivity was 20 percentage points lower than the rest of the G7 in 2011. This represents the widest productivity gap since 1995.

We believe these two factors are related. As this paper demonstrates, there is a firm correlation between employee engagement and high organisational productivity and performance across all sectors of the economy.

Employee disengagement is therefore clearly contributing to our disappointing productivity figures. Analysis indicates that were the UK to move its engagement levels to the middle of the top quartile such as that for the Netherlands this would be associated with a £25.8bn increase in GDP.”